2011 CSG Innovations Awards Address Criminal Justice, Cloud Computing, Oil and Gas Wells, and Elder Abuse and Neglect
Four of the eight 2011 CSG Innovations Award-winning programs address criminal justice, and one could be categorized under criminal justice or social services. Seven of the eight deploy sophisticated software and hardware to improve state agency services. One is the first state effort to formally incorporate wellness activities into a health insurance plan for state employees. All represent cutting-edge ideas to improve state government services to citizens.
Maryland Security Integration Initiative
Like their counterparts in other states and localities, the courts and law enforcement agencies in Maryland collect, store, and manage a lot of information every day. Historically, most of these agencies in Maryland processed and housed that data independently of each other, and did not really have a strategy or efficient way to share the information. This left gaps in the information law enforcement officials needed to fight crime.
The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services solved the problem with its Security Integration Initiative. The initiative consists of a criminal justice dashboard, geographic mapping software, facial recognition software, and an offender management system.
The dashboard is a Web-based application that allows authorized personnel to access and research information in real time about criminal offenders from more than 100 databases maintained by 22 agencies. Users only need one ID and password to do this, and they can do it through a single portal.
Sources of the data include courts, state and local law enforcement and corrections agencies, the departments of motor vehicles and natural resources, juvenile justice and mental health agencies, and CODIS, a DNA database. It also includes 2 million offender photos.
Law enforcement personnel typically use the system during criminal investigations to map crime locations with offenders’ reported residences to generate lists of suspects. Officers then use it to formally identify suspects, identify any aliases, to see if suspects have criminal records or warrants against them, and whether suspects are on probation and parole. The system also flags suspects who are considered armed and dangerous or are gang members.
Parole and probation officers use it to monitor the activities of offenders they are supervising.
The success of Maryland’s Security Integration Initiative is best indicated by the extraordinary growth in the number of people who use it. Just 200 people used the integrated system when it began operating in 2009. They could only access data from three agencies. Now, more than 5,000 law enforcement personnel make between 60,000 – 80,000 queries per day.
Maryland currently grants access to its system to law enforcement personnel in Delaware, and intends to grant access to other states as well.
Contact: Virginia Geckler, Chief, Policy, Research & Training Division, Governor’s Office of Crime Control & Prevention,410-821-2855, firstname.lastname@example.org
New Hampshire Adult Protective Services Structured Decision Making® System.
The New Hampshire Bureau of Elderly and Adult Services adopted this system to help caseworkers prioritize their responses to reports of neglect, self-neglect, or abuse against elderly and incapacitated adults. These include people who live alone and people who live with relatives or other caregivers.
Bureau staff uses the system for intake, investigation, and case management. The decision making system consists of a series of basic questions caseworkers use to gather information about each report during each of these phase. They use that information to prioritize cases based on the severity of incidents, the vulnerability of the alleged victims, and the potential risk of future harm to the alleged victims.
When bureau staff gets reports of abuse, the system helps them decide whether the reports are true and require a response. If the answer is yes, caseworkers visit the homes of the alleged victims to investigate.
Caseworkers use the system to process information they acquire during these home visits to judge whether such people are safe, conditionally safe, or unsafe. That determination helps structure which services the caseworkers order to help the people, and whether to make more visits. For example, caseworkers will work with people who are deemed conditionally safe to move or remove potentially dangerous things such as large furniture that they could fall over but no longer use. If necessary, they might make one additional visit to such people.
Investigations can last up to sixty days. At the conclusion of investigations, the caseworkers use the system to classify clients as a low, moderate, or high risk of future harm, and whether to formally open ongoing cases.
The agency generally does not offer ongoing services or continue investigating people who are classified as a low risk. It continues to offer varying levels of services and caseworker visits to people who are classified as a moderate or high risk of future harm. At that point, bureau staff uses the system to assess the strengths and needs of such people, and to develop that information into an ongoing, and formal case plan for them.
The Bureau gets about 2,400 reports of abuse or neglect each year. The Structured Decision-Making System has enabled the Bureau to better judge the legitimacy of such reports and to focus its limited resources on the people who need it most.
Contact: Diane Langley, Director, New Hampshire Bureau of Elderly and Adult Services, 603-271-4394, email@example.com
Michigan Cloud Computing
Like many states, Michigan’s Department of Technology, Management and Budget was struggling in recent years to meet the growing need for computing capacity by state agencies, and to do so quickly and cost-effectively.
Historically, this meant adding new computers to the state inventory, replacing old computers with new and more powerful computers, buying time and storage space on commercial computers, and buying more software and software licenses. It also meant maintaining all that software and hardware.
Ultimately, it meant that agency IT requests had to be handled almost exclusively by DTMB staff.
This was an unending battle that was expensive and unsustainable in the face of declining state revenues.
The department answered this challenge by adopting cloud computing as the core IT service for state agencies. Cloud computing basically means using a browser and the internet to access and use computer programs and store data on a remote host computer. Cloud computing can supplant or supplement desktop computers and the more powerful servers state agencies typically use to provide functions such as accounting and to aggregate data from many departments.
Michigan focused its efforts on its servers.
Michigan delivers cloud computing to state agencies through shared data centers or servers that appear as a single point of access to state employees. Virtualization is a key component.
Virtualization means creating several simulated computers that operate independently within a real, host computer. The host servers can run many virtual computers without requiring new hardware, memory, licenses, or physical space.
The number of virtual servers the state can set up to support cloud applications is only limited by the size and power of its host servers. For example, the state currently runs about 20 virtual computers on any given host server. The goal is 50 virtual machines on every host unit.
Adopting cloud computing has resulted in significant economies of scale that enhance agency efficiency and save the state money. First, and most importantly, authorized staff in state agencies can now use the cloud to directly adjust their agencies’ computing needs instead of running all requests through the DTMB.
Agency staff can use the cloud to create virtual servers within 30 minutes or add virtual computer storage space within 10 minutes. They can set up both functions on a pay-as-you go basis without being locked into a yearly or longer term contract or agreement. And with cloud computing, they can do both about 70 percent cheaper than buying new machines or renting capacity to perform those functions.
Finally, the DTMB uses cloud computing to make state data more secure. In 2010, the National Association of Chief Information Officers recognized Michigan’s cloud security protocols as best practices that should be adopted by other states and localities.
Contact: Bob McDonough, Lead Cloud Architect,517-719-1884, firstname.lastname@example.org
Nebraska’s Wellness Options
In 2009, Nebraska launched a comprehensive wellness program for state employees to encourage them to live healthy lifestyles and use more preventive health care. That program is generally available to all employees.
However, the state subsequently took the idea one step further by creating and offering a Wellness PPO to state employees. This is a health insurance plan for state employees that bases premiums in part on their efforts to maintain healthy lifestyles. It combines wellness activities and traditional PPO benefits into a single plan. It is a new, lower-priced option to the other traditional health insurance plans the state offers to its employees. Nebraska is the first state to offer state workers a Wellness PPO health insurance plan, and about 5,000 employees are currently in that plan.
To qualify for the Wellness PPO plan, employees must undergo biometric screening, fill out an online questionnaire about their health, and enroll in one of four wellness activities. They must do this annually.
The biometric screening records employees’ height, weight, blood pressure, total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, triglycerides, and glucose levels. This information is supplemented by answers employees provide in the online questionnaire. That addresses lifestyle behavior, health histories, and the employees’ current health status.
Feel Like a Million is one of the four wellness activities. Employees can enroll in this component to learn about and track daily their activities related to healthy eating and exercise. Employees can work with a coach in the Empowerment component to get personal guidance and support about living a healthier lifestyle. Employees with chronic diseases such as diabetes can work with a coach in the Condition Management component to help manage their disease so they feel better and enjoy a good quality of life. People who are generally sedentary can enroll in Walk This Way, a wellness activity in which participants agree to walk and log 600,000 steps by a certain date. The state gives employees pedometers to record their progress.
Nebraska has about 18,000 state employees. Between 2006 and 2008 health insurance premiums for Nebraska state employees increased by an average of 15 percent each year. Implementing wellness options and the Wellness PPO helped reduce that increase to about 2 percent between 2009 and 2010.
In addition, preventive screening under the program is credited with detecting 257 new cancer cases, 218 new high blood pressure cases, and 191 new diabetic cases. Detecting these cases in their early stages increases the chances employees will recover from or at least control their diseases, and it should also lower the cost to treat them.
Nebraska also won the 2011 Workplace Wellness award from the American Wellness Council.
Contact: Roger Wilson, Administrator, Department of Administrative Services, Department of Wellness & Benefits,402-471-1638, email@example.com
North Carolina Criminal Justice Law Enforcement Automated Data Services(CJLEADS)
When police officers respond to a call, they need to know as much information as possible about who they are pursuing or who they will encounter when they arrive on the scene, and particularly if the people they encounter have criminal records.
The state designed CJLEADS to collect, integrate, and format data from eight state criminal justice agencies into comprehensive profiles of offenders. It makes those profiles available to criminal justice professionals through a single, Web-based application.
The data includes offenders’ criminal histories, photos, and probation and parole records. The system uses software and a complex formula to sort through this information and create the profiles. The state uses these profiles to create watch-lists of dangerous offenders and to alert officers in the field about such offenders.
Law enforcement officials throughout the state use the watch-lists to monitor when dangerous offenders are released from state or local custody or have upcoming court dates. They check the profiles of such offenders to see they have a recent history of assaultive behavior. If so, they use CLEADS to place warning icons on the offenders’ profiles such as “Approach with Caution” to alert officers in the field who might come into contact with such people.
The North Carolina Office of the Controller administers CJLEADS. Program staff estimate about 33,000 law enforcement officials, judges, and district attorneys currently use CJLEADS. They expect that number to increase in the future.
Contact: Kay Meyer, Data Integration Project Manager, North Carolina Office of the State Controller, 919-981-2544, firstname.lastname@example.org
North Carolina Probation and Parole Officers Dashboard
Parole and Probation officers in North Carolina typically manage between 80 and 100 cases. This number is increasing. Keeping track of one parolee or probationer is hard. Keeping track of many is very hard, especially if officers don’t have complete and current information about them, or they need to get that information from several sources in paper formats.
The PPO dashboard is an internet-based application that uses information from CJLEADS, and particularly, the administrative office of the courts, to create daily snapshots of the activities of parolees and probationers throughout the state. These include whether such people have been recently arrested, are scheduled for court dates or home visits, missed court dates, or missed appointments with their probation and parole officers. High priority items are flagged red. Lower priority items are flagged yellow. The dashboard also contains important anecdotal information such as whether a parolee or probationer has a job or is still showing up at work.
Officers use this information and the dashboard to generate a comprehensive picture of their entire caseload at any given time and the equivalent picture of specific cases. Both uses of the dashboard enable officers to quickly and accurately determine when people violate their parole or probation. And both help officers predict whether parolees and probationers will commit another crime. For example, someone who misses a couple appointments with their probation officer or quits their job is probably headed for trouble.
The North Carolina PPO dashboard is a tool that helps key law enforcement personnel do a better job, and that enhances public safety.
Contact: Bob Brinson, CIO, North Carolina Department of Correction, 919-761-2500, Bob.Brinson@doc.nc.gov
Colorado -- eForm
The Colorado Oil and Gas Commission developed this Web-based software to automate applying for, reviewing, and approving permits to site oil and gas wells in the state. People can access eForm at the Commission’s website. Here they are guided through a series of steps in a dashboard format which are determined by whether they are a well operator, agency staff, or member of the public.
For example, well operators can apply for a new permit by filling out a new electronic form. Or, they can access and use any information already in the system about them to auto-complete a new permit application. This saves operators time and money. The system automatically notifies other state agencies such as the department of public health and environment when pending applications require their input. It allows the public to view and comment about permit applications online, and it allows operators and the public to track permit applications as those move through state agency review. It automatically notifies applicants when the state finishes reviewing their permit applications.
eForm reduced the average time it takes to process an oil or gas permit application from 45 days to 30 days. It added transparency to that process, and it streamlined the flow of information between state agencies and more than 600 well operators.
The Colorado Oil and Gas Commission developed eForm with the Groundwater Protection Council, a national association of state ground water and underground injection control agencies. Colorado’s successful implementation of eForm has prompted that association to encourage all its member states to adopt eForm.
Contact: Marc Fine, IT Manager, Colorado Oil and Gas Commission, 303-894-2100 ext. 5140, email@example.com
Washington Statewide Electronic Collision and Ticket Online Records (SECTOR)
Each year, Washington state agencies process between 130,000 and 150,000 collision reports and more than one million traffic citations. Many state and local agencies create, collect, and store traffic collision and citation information. The Washington State Patrol developed SECTOR to automate this traditionally paper-based process.
Under SECTOR, the process starts when officers enter citation and collision information electronically into a database from their patrol vehicles. From there, SECTOR quickly and seamlessly routes the information to all state agencies that use it. These include the state patrol, the department of transportation, the department of licensing, and the administrative office of the courts.
The system uses bar codes on the state driver’s license to speed data processing. That information includes the person’s age, sex, and other things such as whether they are restricted from certain types of driving.
The state trooper who presented SECTOR to our Western selection committee noted that while SECTOR enhances state and local government efficiency and eliminates errors in public records, it also helps keep police officers and the public safer by decreasing the amount of time both parties are at the scene of accident or traffic stop, and that is particularly important.
The state does not require anyone to use SECTOR. However, more than 2,000 officers representing 168 law enforcement agencies use it, as do 133 of 169 district and municipal courts, and these numbers are steadily increasing.
Contact: Tom Wallace, Chief Technology Officer, Washington State Patrol, 360-705-5192, Tom.Wallace@WSP.WA,GOV
CSG Innovations Awards honor state programs that adopt creative and effective ideas to improve state government, whether through streamlining the operation of a single agency or changing how most agencies within a state serve citizens. The awards are an offshoot from a CSG Innovations Transfer Program that dates back to the nineteen seventies.
More than a thousand state programs applied to win the awards during the last 25 years. Two hundred programs won awards. These programs represent states in all four CSG regions and all aspects of state government, including finance and administration, technology, social services, education, environmental protection, and public safety and corrections.
Collectively, Innovations Award winners:
* Represent bold ideas to address significant issues;
* Fundamentally change how state government operates;
* Significantly improve internal department operations and efficiency;
* Contain innovative components other states could replicate;
* Were the first or among the first of their kind; and
* Significantly improve state services to citizens.
The programs’ diversity is noteworthy. For example, Washington won last year for creating a Health Technology Assessment Program to ensure treatments offered by its state health insurance plans and Medicaid are effective and necessary.
Indiana won in 2008 with BioTown, a project to turn Reynolds, Indiana into a model community that produces enough of its own energy from renewable resources that it will eventually enable residents to draw little or no power from the main electrical grid.
Delaware won in 2002 for its trend-setting financial literacy initiative to teach citizens how to better manage their personal finances.
And Texas won in 1996 for creating The Texas Performance Review, an independent, standing commission that analyzed and made recommendations to improve state agency operations.
Collectively, these award-winning programs also demonstrate the hard work and dedication of state employees. Indeed, behind every program that applies to win a CSG Innovations Award, there are people who came up with the idea and put in the time and work to make it happen. They are outstanding public servants, and they are the real winners of these awards.
Visit http://www.csg.org/programs/InnovationsbyYear.aspx to get more information about these and other innovative state programs.